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Postal complaints in the country will be solved within 24 hours- Sinha
Sep 13,2016

Ministry of Communications launched India Post Help Centre and a Toll Free Number 1924 to address the grievances of people in the Country related to Department of Posts. Inaugurating the Help Centre here, Minister of Communications, Shri Manoj Sinha said that the move comes in the wake of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modis PRAGATI (Pro-Active Governance And Timely Implementation) review meetings, where he exhorts the Union Ministers to actively address the grievances of the common man by setting up and strengthening Public Redressal Grievances Mechanism.

Shri Sinha said that the Help Centre has been launched in three languages -Hindi, English and Malayalam and gradually all regional languages will be included which are mentioned in the Schedule of the Indian Constitution.

He said, the Help Centre will be functioning from 8 A.M to 8 P.M on all working days except holidays. Shri Sinha said that soon, in every circle a nodal officer will be appointed to bring efficiency in redressal mechanism.

The Minister stressed that except in the case of policy decisions, all complaints related to postal services will be addressed within 24 Hours. Shri Sinha recalled that last month he had launched n++Twitter Sewan++ for addressing the complaints and concerns of common man and other stake-holders in the telecom and postal sectors, where on an average 100 complaints are received daily related to postal services. He said, the Department of Posts is one of the 8th largest Department/Ministry in terms of numbers of complaints received. A toll free helpline number 1924 would be available for customers from all over India from landline/mobile phone of service providers namely AirTel, Idea, Vodaphone, Telenor, Aircel, MTS, Reliance etc.

The complaints received from the complainant on toll free number 1924 would be registered in Computerized Customer Centre (CCC) Portal by the operators at the Dak Bhawan and the 11 digits ticket number would be provided to the complainants. If the complaint already registered, the complainant would be informed the status as viewed in CCC Portal. As soon as the complaint is generated on CCC Portal, the concerned post office will take immediate necessary action to resolve it and would upload the status.

All the Postal Circles will have a Control Room for monitoring and redressal of complaints. The Nodal Officer in each Circle will open the CCC Portal every day and check all the complaints beginning with n++100030 - n++n++ the Toll Free Complaintsn++ and will examine for quick disposal. The Circle Heads would direct to all the Post Offices concerned to ensure that they log in CCC Portal at the beginning of day and at the end of the day compulsorily.

The case disposal time is one working day subject to policy matters. The complainant would be informed, if it involves policy matter. A reasonable reply should be uploaded in the CCC Portal. The Circle will update the status of each such cases every 24 hrs. through email on adgpg@indiapost.gov.in. The name of Officers with email address and mobile number in each Circle who will be Nodal Officer, should be sent on email adgpg@indiapost.gov.in .CPMG should review the 1924 pending cases every day and in case of pendency going beyond 24 hours would give full details and convey his/her observation to PG Cell of Directorate which will provide weekly report to the Office of Secretary (Posts). The Circles would provide utmost priority and quick disposal of the complaints received through Toll Free Centre. All the Circles would propagate and give wide publicity of n++Toll Free Number 1924n++ within their jurisdiction through appropriate medium within budgetary limit.

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Enhancing Buffer Stock of Pulses to 20 LMT
Sep 13,2016

Shri Ram Vilas Paswan, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution today here brief the media about the initiatives taken by the Government to check the price rise of pulses.

The Minister said that the main reason for unprecedented price rise in pulses has been two years of deficit rainfall and consequently drought-like situation in the entire country. Due to this, the production of pulses was less as compared to that in previous years, as a result of which there was huge demand-supply gap. This provided an opportunity for middlemen and hoarders to stock and speculate the price of pulses.

Highlighting the statistics, the Minister said that the production of pulses sharply declined from 192.5 LMT in the year 2013-14 to 171.4 LMT in 2014-15 and to around 165 LMT in 2015-16. Though the import figures increased to 45 LMT in 2014-15 and 58 LMT in 2015-16, there was a net deficit in supplies.

Shri Paswan said that fortunately, this year, there has been good rainfall and the acreage of pulses has gone up. It is expected that the production of pulses will exceed 200 LMT in the year 2016-17.

The Minister said that Government took various steps to check rising prices of pulses by banning export and allowing import of pulses at zero duty. In the last two years MSP of pulses has been increased considerably by providing bonus. The MSP for Arhar was increased from Rs. 4350 per qtl. in the year 2014-15 to Rs. 4625 per qtl. in the year 2015-16. This year, the MSP of Arhar has been increased by Rs. 425 per qtl. and now it is Rs. 5050 per qtl. Similarly, in case of Urad the MSP now is Rs. 5000 per qtl., an increase of Rs. 650 per qtl. in two years. The MSP for Moong is Rs. 5225 per qtl., an increase of Rs. 625 per qtl. in the last two years.

Buffer Stock

Shri Ram Vilas Paswan said that Government took a decision to create buffer stock of 1.5 LMT pulses. However, looking at the trend of prices and demand-supply gap, it was increased to 5 LMT and then to 8 LMT. Now as per the decision of Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs today, the buffer stock has been increased to 20 LMT. The salient features of buffer stock are as follows:

10 LMT will be created through domestic procurement operations to be undertaken by FCI, NAFED and SFAC.

10 LMT will be created through import of pulses which will be through G2G contract and/or spot purchase from the global market.

The stock position of buffer stock at present is 3 LMT, out of which 1.81 LMT is imported pulses and 1.19 LMT is domestic procurement.

The allocation of pulses from buffer stock would be made to States and Central Agencies.

Pulses would be released through Open Market Sales as well.

Professional agency for management of buffer stock may be engaged.

Shri Paswan said that all this has been possible due to personal intervention of Prime Minister who took the issue of price rise on high priority and formed a High Level Committee under the Chairmanship of Finance Minister. Enhancing the buffer stock to 20 LMT was one of the recommendations of this Committee, which the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved.

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Direct Tax Collections rises by 15.03% upto August 2016 over corresponding period last year
Sep 12,2016

The figures for Direct Tax Collections up to August, 2016 show that net revenue collections are at Rs. 1.89 lakh crore which is 15.03% more than the net collections for the corresponding period last year. Till August 2016, 22.30% of the Budget Estimates of direct taxes for Financial Year 2016-17 has been achieved.

As regards the growth rates for Corporate Income Tax (CIT) and Personal Income Tax (PIT), in terms of gross revenue collections, the growth rate under CIT is 11.55% while that under PIT (including STT etc.) is 24.06%. However, after adjusting for refunds, the net growth in CIT collections is (-)1.89% while that in PIT collections is 31.76%. Refunds amounting to Rs. 77,080 crore have been issued during April-August, 2016, which is 22.18% higher than the refunds issued during the corresponding period last year.

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Cabinet approves enhancing the buffer stock of pulses up to 20 lakh tonnes
Sep 12,2016

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the proposal of Department of Consumer Affairs on enhancing the buffer stock for pulses up to 20 lakh tonnes. The buffer stock will be built through domestic procurement and imports of 10 lakh tonnes each.

The specific variety of pulses and their respective quantities for the buffer stock, their phasing/procurement will be decided based on price and availability position, both domestic and global, and changes, if any, in the procurement plan for the current and subsequent seasons will be with due approvals. Releases from the stock and procurement in subsequent year would be based on the prevailing pulse scenario as well as buffer stock position. Requisite funds for this operation would be provided to the Price Stabilisation Fund Scheme of the Department.

For creating the buffer stock, the domestic procurement operations will be undertaken by the Central Agencies namely FCI, NAFED and SFAC or any other agency as decided by PSFMC at the prevailing market prices if the prevailing market prices are above Minimum Support Prices (MSP), and at MSP, if otherwise. In addition, State Governments may also be authorized, wherever possible, to undertake the procurement in a manner similar to decentralized procurement of food-grains.

Import of pulses under PSF to meet the buffer stock requirements would be undertaken through G2G contract and/or spot purchase from the global market through designated Public Sector Enterprise of Department of Commerce or any other agency designated by PSFMC.

The allocation/release of the pulses from the buffer stock would be made to States/ UTs and Central Agencies. Pulses would also be released through strategic open market sale. For managing the buffer, professional pulses buffer management entity may also be engaged. The exercise will ensure a stable price regime for pulses and will also encourage domestic farmers to increase production of pulses.

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Cabinet apprised of the MoU between India and South Africa in the field of Information and Communication Technologies
Sep 12,2016

The Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has been apprised of the MoU signed on July 08, 2016 between India and South Africa for promoting bilateral cooperation in the field of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).

The MoU will help to establish inter-institutional cooperan++tion and relations between the two Parties in order to promote cooperation in the field of ICT.

It will also result in active cooperation and exchanges between the private entities, capacity building institutions, Governments and other public organizations of the two countries in the field of ICT.

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Cabinet approves initiation of the Third Phase of Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme (TEQIP)
Sep 12,2016

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the proposal for initiation of the Third Phase of Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme (TEQIP).

The Project will be implemented as a Central Sector Scheme with total project outlay of Rs. 3600 crore. However, the project would be initiated with a cost of Rs. 2660 crore, with the possibility of additional financing of Rs. 940 crore at later stage. Out of the Rs.2660 crore, the Central share will be Rs.1330 crore and external assistance from the World Bank through International Development Association (IDA) Credit of Rs. 1330 crore ($ 201.50 million as first tranche).

The project will be implemented with the facility of Direct Funds Transfer to the accounts of beneficiary institutes. The project will be initiated in the current year and will be co-terminus with Fourteenth Finance Commission (FFC) i.e. 2019-20,

The major outcomes of the project are:

(i) Better academic standards, through accreditation, filling up faculty positions, training faculty in better teaching methods, improved research outputs in institution in Focus States/UTs.

(ii) Better administration of the institutions with improved financial/academic autonomy.

(iii) Better systems for assessment of Student Learning, higher transition rates.

(iv) Transparent and expeditious release of funds to institutes by way of Direct Funds Transfer (DFT) System.

An estimated 200 Government / Government aided engineering institutes and Affiliating Technical Universities (ATUs) including the Centrally Funded Technical Institutions (CFTIs) will be selected.

The project will cover all Government / Government aided engineering institutes, ATUs and CFTIs from Focus States/UT. High-performing TEQIP-I/ TEQIP-II Government / Government aided institutes/ATUs across the country would be eligible to participate in twinning arrangements for knowledge transfer, exchange of experience, optimizing the use of resources and developing long-term strategic partnerships.

The Focus States are 7 Low Income States (Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh), 3 Hill States (Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand), 8 North-Eastern States (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura) and Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Background:

The Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme (TEQIP) commenced in 2003 with World Bank assistance as a long term programme to be implemented in three phases. The first phase of TEQIP commenced in 2003 and ended on March 31st, 2009. It covered 127 institutes across 13 States including 18 Centrally Funded Technical Institutions (CFTIs). TEQIP-II commenced in August 2010, covering 23 States/Union Territories (UTs) and 191 Institutes (including 26 CFTIs). TEQIP-II is scheduled to conclude in October, 2016. Both projects have had a positive impact on the infrastructure and educational standards in the technical institutions where they were taken up. Institutions in the central, eastern and north-eastern region and hill States are at present in need of similar and specific interventions. The initiation and implementation of the project TEQIP-III will bridge this gap.

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Cabinet approves creation of GST Council and its Secretariat
Sep 12,2016

The Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved setting up of GST Council and setting up its Secretariat as per the following details:

(a) Creation of the GST Council as per Article 279A of the amended Constitution;

(b) Creation of the GST Council Secretariat, with its office at New Delhi;

(c) Appointment of the Secretary (Revenue) as the Ex-officio Secretary to the GST Council;

(d) Inclusion of the Chairperson, Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC), as a permanent invitee (non-voting) to all proceedings of the GST Council;

(e) Create one post of Additional Secretary to the GST Council in the GST Council Secretariat (at the level of Additional Secretary to the Government of India), and four posts of Commissioner in the GST Council Secretariat (at the level of Joint Secretary to the Government of India).

The Cabinet also decided to provide for adequate funds for meeting the recurring and non-recurring expenses of the GST Council Secretariat, the entire cost for which shall be borne by the Central Government. The GST Council Secretariat shall be manned by officers taken on deputation from both the Central and State Governments.

The steps required in the direction of implementation of GST are being taken ahead of the schedule so far.

The Finance Minister has also decided to call the first meeting of the GST Council on 22nd and 23rd September 2016 in New Delhi.

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Cabinet apprised of the MoU between India and Mozambique on cooperation in the field of Youth Affairs
Sep 12,2016

The Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has been apprised of the MoU signed on July 07, 2016 between India and Mozambique on cooperation in the field of Youth Affairs and Sports during the visit of Prime Minister of India to Mozambique.

This MoU will help in promotion of sports in the two countries and will promote exchange of ideas, values and culture amongst Youth and in developing friendly relations.

It will also help in developing international perspective among the Youth and expanding their knowledge and expertise in the areas of Youth Affairs and Sports.

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Cabinet approves MoU between India and Kenya on cooperation in the field of National Housing Policy Development and Management
Sep 12,2016

The Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its expost-facto approval for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Kenya on cooperation in the field of National Housing Policy Development and Management (NHPDM). The MoU was signed on 11th July, 2016 at Nairobi during the visit of the Prime Minister of India.

Under the MoU, both the sides will collaborate on all matters relating to housing and human settlements through various strategies including training of personnel, exchange visits, expos/exhibitions, conferences and workshops.

The cooperation between the two countries will focus on upscaling slum upgradation and prevention initiatives based on the experience and implementation process of each country. They will collaborate on development and sharing of information on housing and real estate data base including market trends, best practices and investment opportunities.

It will encourage technical cooperation in facilitating access to affordable housing from locally available building materials. It will also encourage technical cooperation in development of Government/Public employee facilitated housing. This would be useful to explore ways of a delivery model towards Government employees housing scheme, including creating an enabling environment for participation in the delivery of such intended scheme by private sector players.

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Cabinet approves establishment of Higher Education Financing Agency for creating capital assets in higher educational institutions
Sep 12,2016

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the creation of the Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) to give a major push for creation of high quality infrastructure in premier educational institutions.

The HEFA would be jointly promoted by the identified Promoter and the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) with an authorised capital of Rs.2,000 crore. The Government equity would be Rs.1,000 crore.

The HEFA would be formed as a SPV within a PSU Bank/ Government-owned-NBFC (Promoter). It would leverage the equity to raise up to Rs. 20,000 crore for funding projects for infrastructure and development of world class Labs in IITs/IIMs/NITs and such other institutions.

The HEFA would also mobilise CSR funds from PSUs/Corporates, which would in turn be released for promoting research and innovation in these institutions on grant basis.

The HEFA would finance the civil and lab infrastructure projects through a 10-year loan. The principal portion of the loan will be repaid through the internal accruals (earned through the fee receipts, research earnings etc) of the institutions. The Government would service the interest portion through the regular Plan assistance.

All the Centrally Funded Higher Educational Institutions would be eligible for joining as members of the HEFA. For joining as members, the Institution should agree to escrow a specific amount from their internal accruals to HEFA for a period of 10 years. This secured future flows would be securitised by the HEFA for mobilising the funds from the market. Each member institution would be eligible for a credit limit as decided by HEFA based on the amount agreed to be escrowed from the internal accruals.

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Cabinet approves Exchange of Tariff concessions under the Fourth Round of Negotiations APTA
Sep 12,2016

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the exchange of tariff concessions, on Margin of Preference basis, under the Fourth Round of Negotiations under the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement and related amendments. The Asia Pacific Trade Agreement or APTA (formerly the Bangkok Agreement) is an initiative under the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP) for trade expansion through exchange of tariff concessions among developing country members of the Asia Pacific Region. The current membership of APTA consists of six countries or Participating States (PSs), namely, Bangladesh, China, India, Lao PDR, Republic of Korea, and Sri Lanka.

Since this is a preferential trade agreement, the basket of items as well as extent of tariff concessions are enlarged during the trade negotiating rounds which are launched from time to time. Till date, three rounds of trade negotiations have taken place. Up to the Third Round, India has offered tariff preferences on 570 tariff lines at an average Margin of Preference (MoP) of 23.9% and an additional 48 tariff lines to LDC members at an average MoP of 39.7% at the 6-digit HS level. The third round, with respect to all Participating States, cumulatively covered concessions on 4,270 products with MOP of 27.2%.

The Cabinet approved Indias offer 28.01% of dutiable national tariff lines (i.e. 3142 lines in HS2012 at 8-digit) with an average MoP of 33.45%. This will deepen the concessions being offered under this Agreement. Approval was also given to amend the preamble of APTA to effect accession of Mongolia as the 7th APTA Participating State. Other amendments to incorporate the Sectoral Rule of Origin to the Agreement were also approved.

The Fourth Session of the Ministerial Council of APTA, which is scheduled to be held shortly, will formally implement all the above decisions.

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Cabinet approves Bilateral Technical Arrangement between India and Switzerland on the identification and return of Swiss and Indian Nationals
Sep 12,2016

The Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for signing of the Technical Arrangement between India and Switzerland on the identification and return of Swiss and Indian Nationals and its implementation.

Conclusion of the Bilateral Technical Arrangement (BTA) has been linked to the Visa Free Agreement for holders of Diplomatic passports as a package deal. The BTA essentially aims to formalise the existing procedure for cooperation on the return of irregular migrants between the two countries without introducing any additional obligations or exacting timeframes. It is noteworthy that the estimated number of irregular migrants in Switzerland who are thought to be from India is less than 100. If the BTA with Switzerland is approved as proposed, it would offer an opportunity to use the same as a model template for negotiations on the subject with other EU countries, which have been raising the issue regularly with us. It would also help to leverage the Readmission Agreement to liberalise visa and work permit regimes for legitimate Indian travellers. This has been envisaged as a key goal in the recently concluded India-EU Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility (CAMM).

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Cabinet approves extension of contract between India and the International Seabed Authority for exploration of Polymetallic Nodules
Sep 12,2016

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the extension of contract between Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India and the International Seabed Authority (ISA) for exploration of Polymetallic Nodules for a further period of 5 years (2017-22). The earlier contract is expiring on 24th March 2017.

By extending the contract, Indias exclusive rights for exploration of Polymetallic Nodules in the allotted Area in the Central Indian Ocean Basin will continue and would open up new opportunities for resources of commercial and strategic value in area beyond national jurisdiction. Further, it would provide strategic importance for India in terms of enhanced presence in Indian Ocean where other international: players are also active.

Background:

Polymetallic nodules (also known as manganese nodules) are potato-shaped, largely porous nodules found in abundance carpeting the sea floor of world oceans in deep sea. Besides manganese and iron, they contain nickel, copper, cobalt, lead, molybdenum, cadmium, vanadium, titanium, of which nickel, cobalt and copper are considered to be of economic and strategic importance. India signed a 15 year contract for exploration of Polymetallic Nodules (PMN) in Central Indian Ocean Basin with the International Seabed Authority (ISA) (an Institution set up under the Convention on Law of the Sea to which India is a Party) on 25th March, 2002 with the approval of Cabinet. India is presently having an area of 75,000 sq.km., located about 2000 km away from her southern tip for exploration of PMN.

Ministry of Earth Sciences is carrying out Survey & Exploration, Environmental Impact Assessment, Technology Development (Mining and Extractive Metallurgy) under polymetallic nodules program through various national institutes viz. National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Institute of Minerals and Materials Technology (IMMT), National Metallurgical Laboratory (NML), National Centre for Antarctica and Ocean Research (NCAOR), National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) etc., in accordance with the Contract provisions. India is fulfilling all the obligations of the contract.

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Cabinet approves Cadre Review of Group A Executive Officers of Border Security Force
Sep 12,2016

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the Cadre Review of Group A Executive officers of BSF with net creation of 74 posts of various ranks from Assistant Commandant to Additional DG ranks to enhance the operational and administrative capabilities of BSF.

Increase of existing structure of Group A posts from 4109 to 4183 posts are as follows:

1. Increase of one post of Additional DG (HAG level).

2. Net increase of 19 posts of Inspector General (SAG level).

3. Net increase of 370 posts of DIG/Commandant/2 1C (JAG level).

4. Net increase of 14 posts of Assistant Commandant (JTS level).

5. Net reduction of 330 posts of Deputy Commandant (STS level).

Background:

The BSF is the largest border guarding force established in 1965. The present sanctioned strength of the Force is 2,57,025 having 186 Battalions (including 03 NDRF Battalions). Of these the Executive Group A cadre has sanctioned strength of 4065 officers (4109 including the IPS quota). About 90% of the troops are deployed in Indo-Pakistan Border, Indo-Bangladesh Border (including North East) and Left Wing Extremism (LWE) States. The last cadre review of the service was done in 1990.

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Cabinet approves signing of the Extradition Treaty between India and Afghanistan
Sep 12,2016

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the signing and ratification of the Extradition Treaty between India and Afghanistan.

The treaty would provide a legal framework for seeking extradition of terrorists, economic offenders and other criminals from and to the Afghanistan.

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